How is domestic violence different from the typically disagreements that every couple has?

Every married couple has disagreements and arguments. Successful couples learn to fight and argue cleanly. They have internalized limits -- protocols and rules of engagement. Arguments past are not ammunition for disagreements present. Voices may be raised but not fists. The spouses do not hit one another. They do not make attacks on one another as people. They do not gunnysack their anger, nor use fear as a weapon to win a disagreement. They do not keep score or try to get even. Their arguments may even be creative in that they wrestle with a problem in search of a solution, not a victory of one over the other.

Fear is not an element in the marital disagreements most couples have from time to time. Domestic violence differs both in kind and degree from the arguments couples have and resolve in the course of normal marriage.

A woman trapped in domestic violence may make excuses for her husband or boyfriend. She knows she and her husband fight, but she says, "Doesn’t every couple?"

It is tempting to say, "You’ll know domestic violence when it happens," but unfortunately the psychological pressure that is often present in domestic violence can negatively affect a victim’s judgment. Very often the victims of domestic abuse have low self-esteem and believe they "have misbehaved and have it coming."

A women is a victim of domestic violence if she feels physically afraid when she fights or argues with his husband or boyfriend, or if she changes her behavior out of fear for her safety, or if her husband or boyfriend physically threatens her or the children.